For our third day in Chengdu, we decided to visit the Giant Buddha in Leshan, a town a couple of hours outside the city. It should probably be noted that we actually intended to visit the Giant Panda Reserve on this day, but we hopped on the bus going in the wrong direction and ended up the other side of the city.
Following this mishap with public transport, we made our way to the bus centre (I would recommend getting there early) in search of another bus that would take us to Leshan. It takes a couple of hours on the bus to reach the town, after which you need to take a taxi about 15 minutes to the Buddha.
We stopped off for some lunch at one of the restaurants at the gate before entering the reserve, again, everything was very tourist-friendly and the menus were in English. The actual entry to the reserve cost 90 Yuan – this includes entry to the whole reserve; the Buddha, Temple, Tomb Caves and gardens.
After a short walk up the mountain, we visited the temple which houses an impressive array of enormous statues and beautiful artefacts, some of which have rather menacing expressions! I bought some incense to light in the temple too.
The gardens and scenery are well worth taking the time to explore here. We found a rose garden, pond and hundreds of gorgeous flowers that were all well maintained and looked after.
The highlight of the trip was, of course, the Grand Buddha. I was blown away by the sheer size of it, especially when you consider when it was built and the resources they had to actually make it. After looking around the top of the mountain, we descended the steps down alongside the statue. It’s a pretty steep descent and filled with Chinese tourists stopping at every given opportunity to take photos of themselves next to the Buddha, so it takes a fair while to get to the bottom. Don’t miss the statues carved into the walls on the way down to the bottom!
There is the option to take a ferry back to the town of Leshan, but we ended up going the wrong way to exit the reserve (amazing directional skills strike again!). We descended the mountain a different way to which we ascended, enabling us to pass a few tourist stands and visit the Tomb Caves – which I would recommend seeing!
The Grand Leshan Buddha stands out for me when I think about my trip to Chengdu; I’m so glad I got to see it and spend the day at the site!